At their May 9 meeting, Thomaston selectmen discussed a potential plan to build an addition onto the Watts block for a new town office and police department.

The concept was added to the stack of options selectmen have been looking at for the past few years. Town officials hope to eventually move the town office and police station out of the Watts block storefronts and to sell the storefronts to retailers, according to Town Manager Valmore Blastow and members of the Board of Selectmen.

The sale would generate some of the funding needed for the town office project, and it would put the downtown business spaces back on tax rolls. However, the town plans to retain ownership of the public spaces upstairs in Watts Hall used for a meeting space, selectmen’s meetings and scout activities.

Blastow said the plans being looked at would have a limited tax impact and would be long range.

Blastow presented an architect’s sketch to selectmen May 9 that had been submitted by David Twombly, who is affiliated with Knox Hotel Apartments.

Select board Chairman Bill Hahn said the Knox Hotel is interested in adding about 20 units in downtown Thomaston through this project. He said they have had very preliminary discussions about Knox Hotel Apartments working with the town.

The project would involve buying Wayne Linscott’s garage behind the Watts block, demolishing it and building an addition onto the back of Watts Hall for the town office and police station. Parking would also have to be added, likely where the wooden part of the Linscott building is now.

Both Blastow and Hahn say the idea is in the very preliminary stages. They stressed that no negotiations or deals have been made. Blastow compared it to an idea drawn on a napkin.

Hahn sent an e-mail May 10 to Twombly stating: “I thought I would let you know that at last evening’s selectboard meeting we talked about the conceptual plan you gave us for additional housing in the town center. The entire board was very supportive of the concept, and we are very willing to provide whatever assistance you may need to help with your due diligence. I personally think that the benefits to the downtown would be many, including an increased tax base, improved functionality of the town offices, and the availability of commercial spaces that would provide ownership possibilities for the business operators.”

Selectman Peter Lammert said that as far as he knows, this is the first time in the talks about what to do with the town office that another entity has expressed an interest in getting involved.

The plan would involve selling the storefronts as condominium units that businesses could own, gain equity through and pay taxes on, while allowing the town to retain ownership of the building itself, Hahn said.

Watts Hall would be renovated as part of the project.

Blastow said town boards, committees and department heads have all agreed in the past that moving the town office should be a priority.

He noted that a report was written in 2009 outlining several options.

One of the options listed in the report would involve relocating the town office and police to Thomaston Academy. The estimated cost of this project was $473,000.

Option 2 in the report proposed relocating the town office and police to Thomaston Academy and purchasing the Wayne Linscott garage building behind Watts Block for fire, ambulance and parking. Under that option, the existing fire and ambulance facility would either be sold or used by the town for something else.

Option 3 was buying the Linscott building and remodeling the 6,000-square-foot masonry portion for a police station and town office. The report calls for adding a parking lot.

Option 4 was buying the Linscott building, remodeling the masonry portion for fire and ambulance, adding a parking lot and remodeling the existing fire station for the police and town office.

Aside from the first option listed, all of the others are estimated to cost about $1 million.

Blastow hopes to see something done about the town office in the next five years.

Lammert said he is concerned about parking with the proposal on the table.

He said he does favor freeing the storefronts for downtown businesses.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated that the American Legion in Thomaston was joining Rockland. Lammert called this week and stated that he has learned that is not the case.